The first half of 2018 has been deadly for Palestinian children, with at least 35 children killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip, according to Defense for Children International — Palestine (DCIP).
In a report published on Monday, DCIP said that between January and July, the number of slain Palestinian children was three times higher than during the same time period in 2017.
According to the group, Israeli forces have killed more Palestinian children since January this year than in any previous year of the past decade, outside of large-scale Israeli military offensives.
On August 5th, the day before the report was published, 17-year-old Ahmad Jihad Ahmad al-Aydi from Gaza succumbed to wounds he had sustained on the first day of Great March of Return protests on March 30th.
Al-Aydi was one of four minors who died of gunshot wounds between July 27 and August 5 after Israeli forces shot them during protests on the the Gaza border.
The other three were identified as Muath Ziad Ibrahim al-Soury, 15, Moemen Fathi Yousef al-Hams, 16, and Majdi Ramzi Kamal al-Satri, 11.
The majority of the children killed in 2018 were killed in Gaza, according to DCIP, with at least 22 of those children killed in the context of the Great March of Return protests.
The ongoing popular demonstrations have been violently suppressed by Israeli forces, who have killed 160 Palestinians and injured over 17,000 more, according to numbers from the Gaza Ministry of Health.
The majority of the slain children, according to DCI, were shot with live ammunition, while two were struck by artillery shells.
Of those killed by live ammunition, 13 children were shot in the head, neck, or chest, the group said said.
One of those children shot in the chest was 14-year-old Arkan Mizher, who was shot and killed by Israeli forces shot during an arrest raid in Dheisheh refugee camp in the middle of the night on July 23.
“Israeli forces have operated with near complete impunity for so long that unlawful killings and other flagrant violations of international law have become the norm,” Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP said in the report.
The group added that “DCIP evidence has determined on multiple occasions that children killed along the Gaza Strip perimeter did not pose a direct, mortal threat at the time of their death,” while noting that under international law, the use lethal force is strictly reserved for instances when a”direct and mortal threat to life or of serious injury exists.”
The number of Palestinian children who died at the hands of the Israeli occupation this year has doubled in comparison to 2017, during which 15 children were killed, according to DCIP records.